What’s in a name? Hagerstown seeks help branding its baseball team | COMMENTARY

In professional sports, team names mean everything. Just look at the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens franchises — beautifully paired ornithologically, historically and literarily (the latter as a nod to Edgar Allan Poe). We’re not claiming the teams’ successes this year have been driven by their well-chosen monikers. Or that the names were even, in retrospect, tough calls to make, given the dearth of species called “Baltimore something-or-other” or giant literary figures who wrote about a raven and are now buried in Baltimore. But, hey, the names obviously didn’t hurt. Just take a look 50 miles south at the Washington, D.C., area, where baseball and football fans are stuck with, respectively, “Nationals” (way, way too obvious) and “Commanders,” a post-Redskins, post-WFT (Washington Football Team) title so bland and borrowed that the NFL team (in the process of being sold) was recently denied a trademark for it.

This brings us to Hagerstown, which is once again at a crossroads which is fitting for “Hub City,” but more about that in a moment. For those who have not necessarily been paying attention to minor league sports in Western Maryland, Hagerstown is in the process of attempting to create a Baltimore-style downtown revival with a new multi-use stadium built with tax dollars — a $70 million project supervised by the Maryland Stadium Authority. It will be home to a new Atlantic League of Professional Baseball franchise, having lost the Hagerstown Suns, a Nationals affiliate, which folded following the 2020 season after 40 years.

So it’s farewell Suns, hello … what? That’s the question, and the effort to answer it has been joined by the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, the local newspaper, and franchise owners Downtown Baseball LLC. They are sponsoring a contest to come up with the new name. People have until June 5 to enter (just hit the link from the Herald-Mail website, heraldmailmedia.com). Up to 15 winners can qualify for prizes ranging from season tickets and gear to two tickets to a single game.

Alas, there is no obvious feathered pick — although we’ve always been fond of osprey (just check out the University of North Florida’s mascot, Ozzie) — we suspect the Sun’s readers are up to the challenge. Calling people names is sort of a Baltimore thing. So to get those creative juices going, and maybe start padding those entry forms, we can offer these four suggestions:

Hagerstown Hubs. Hagerstown earned the title “Hub City” in the 19th century because it was an important hub for various railroads, including the Baltimore & Ohio. We can imagine hub caps in the logo and maybe a 1950s vibe. The mascot could be an overstuffed “hubby” who tells dad jokes if that’s not regarded as too sexist.

The Aviators. This also ties into history. Not only is there a Hagerstown Regional Airport, but Fairchild Corporation (later Fairchild Industries) once employed 10,000 people in Hagerstown to build aircraft — until the plant closed down in 1984. Still, airplanes are cool. There might be a tie-in with “Jay Jay the Jet Plane,” the 1990s children’s show.

The Ransomware. OK, not conventional, we grant you, but Hagerstown is famous as one of three Maryland cities once held for ransom by the Confederate Army seeking cash and clothing during the Civil War. And the locals paid it. Maybe attacking the more contemporary problem of malicious software would put Hagerstown on the high tech map.

The Hagers. Ever wonder where Hagerstown’s name came from? That’s Jonathan Hager, the German-born French and Indian War veteran who started the place back in the 18th century. Wouldn’t a real-life version of the “Hägar the Horrible” comic strip character look cool as a mascot? Slight spelling differences shouldn’t matter. After all, we’re talking about baseball.

Baltimore Sun editorial writers offer opinions and analysis on news and issues relevant to readers. They operate separately from the newsroom.


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